August 10, 2021 – Orange County Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue has dismissed pending murder charges against Mexican Mafia boss Johnny (The Crow) Martinez. The 45-year old Martinez was accused of ordering the 2017 slaying of drug dealer Robert Rios in Placentia, California, reportedly for Rios’ refusal to pay “La Eme,” a street tax on his narcotics business.
The case was initially tossed on an appeal related to grand jury evidence procedure, but reinstated and bound over for trial back in March. In May, however, it was revealed that a sheriffs deputy perjured himself on the stand in a pretrial hearing. Martinez is alleged to be the boss of the Mexican Mafia’s Southern California group.
The Mexican Mafia or “La Eme,” was founded in the California prison system in the late 1950s and eventually spread to the outside world. La Eme’s strongholds are in California and Texas, but California’s faction is the most influential. Martinez grabbed power in La Eme three years ago, going from Orange County lieutenant to shot caller to the No. 1 boss of the entire organization, per California State Police records.
Martinez took over from his mentor, Pete (The Fury) Ojeda, the Mexican Mafia’s longtime don, who died of a heart attack in 2018 after establishing Orange County as La Ema’s “county seat.” His rise to the throne resulted in upheaval and wanton violence, both inside and outside prison walls.
The 35-year old Rios was shot to death on his front lawn by a masked team of hit men on January 19, 2017. Besides Martinez, the feds charged seven other La Eme members with Rios’ killing. According to eye witnesses, Rios left his residence and approached his assailants trying to negotiate with them before being knocked to the ground by two of them and executed by the other gunman.
The order for Rios murder was allegedly relayed to the hit team by Greg (Money) Munoz, then Martinez’s right-hand man. Munoz and Martinez fell out in the months after the Rios slaying and Munoz survived a 2018 assassination attempt where he was shot eight times.
Martinez has been behind bars for the past two decades, serving a 15-year prison stint for a murder from the 1990s. He allegedly green-lit Rios’ killing from inside Salinas Valley State Prison in Monterey, using a smuggled cell phone, according to the indictment filed against him.
One of the members of hit team turned state’s evidence. Martinez still faces trial in a separate attempted murder case stemming from the unrest tied to his ascension.